Qing Xiang seemed satisfied with Liang Chen's answer, a smile appearing on his face. The two stopped talking about Demonic beasts and continued to move towards Sky Piercer Forest. Once they reached the outskirts of the forest, which consisted of dense trees that barely allowed the two of them to walk shoulder to shoulder, Qing Xiang started to teach Liang Chen about the various berries and mushrooms that could be found there.
Qing Xiang also taught him a little about the various herbs that could be found on the outskirts of the forest, especially the ones that had medicinal properties. He plucked two white flowers that had a yellow core, crushing them into a paste and applying the paste onto Liang Chen's knuckles, telling him that it would heal the scars.
After the two of them had spent a few hours in the forest, Qing Xiang felt that Liang Chen should get some rest, so he brought him back to the city. Once he made sure that Liang Chen had gotten some food and laid down in bed, he apologized for leaving again and then left to resume his work as an elder. Qing Xiang was an elder of the clan, so there was always something that he had to do. Had it not been for the fact that Liang Chen was the son of his good friend, he would not even have stayed for a day in Green Rivers City.
After Qing Xiang left, Liang Chen opened his eyes and got out of bed, putting on his coarse robe again. He sat down on the floor and started to quietly cultivate, waiting for a few hours to pass. Qing Chun did not come to visit him that night, so he was able to cultivate all the way until the sun rose again, opening his eyes once the light of the sun shone in through the windows.
He stood up from the ground, leaving the house and heading to the bathroom that his parents had built, taking a quick cold bath. Once he felt refreshed and awake from the bath, he started walking into the city, heading towards a certain building located at the center of the city.
The building he headed to was a light green pagoda that had six floors, the walls engraved with the images of floating clouds. Liang Chen pushed open the exquisite wooden door, the smell of old paper hitting him as he entered the pagoda. The inside of the pagoda was very simple, countless bookshelves standing in orderly lines, leather-bound books filling all the bookshelves. There was a single spiral staircase at the center, leading to the upper floors. At the right side of the entrance was a long counter, an old man with a bald head sitting on a chair behind the counter, quietly reading a book. Liang Chen walked up to the counter, speaking up in a polite voice.
"Excuse me, I would like to read the encyclopedia on Demonic beasts."
This pagoda was the library of the Qing clan branch in Green Rivers city. To make the citizens like the Qing clan more, they had decided to allow anyone to enter the library and read the books. Of course, the truly expensive books or cultivation manuals were kept safely locked away inside the main building of the branch.
Hearing Liang Chen's voice, the old man raised his head from the book, turning towards Liang Chen. When he saw that it was Liang Chen who had spoken, his eyes softened with pity as he let out a sigh.
"It is you. Poor child, the clan has not done right by you. The books you are looking for are on the bookshelves that are leaning against the wall over there."
The old man was one of the people who knew the truth about Liang Chen's parents, so he felt nothing but pity for Liang Chen. But he also understood that the actions that the clan had taken were for the greater good of the clan, so the only thing he could say was that Liang Chen and his parents had terrible luck. After the old man pointed at the bookshelves, he returned to reading his book.
Liang Chen gave him a slight bow and then walked over to the bookshelves, picking out any books he saw contained information about Demonic beasts. He placed the books on a table and sat down, starting to read about the various Demonic beasts that the Qing clan had documented over the years, not missing a single detail.
The day ended up being the first day since his parents were executed that Liang Chen did not do any training or cultivating, reading all the way until the sunset, and then rose once more. Only once noon rolled around did he manage to finish reading everything, closing the last book and putting it back into its place.
He left the library with a calm expression, his face carrying a faint and warm smile. He casually walked through the city, slowly making his way home again. Once he reached his house, he picked up the bucket, filled up a small waterskin with water, and then left the house again, heading towards the exit of the city. While he was heading towards the exit of the city, he heard a cheerful voice call out to him.
"Little Chen, where are you going?"
Liang Chen turned around, spotting the approaching and cheerful Qing Chun. Qing Chun was the last person Liang Chen wanted to know what he was going to do, so he put on a warm smile and lied once again.
"Uncle Xiang showed me a good place where I can harvest mushrooms, so I am going to pick up a few."
Liang Chen raised the bucket in his hand as he spoke, emphasizing his point. Qing Chun's eyes lit up when she heard Liang Chen's plans, quickly taking a step closer as she spoke out in an excited voice.
"Oh! Can I join you?"
Liang Chen's lips curled into a wry smile as he shook his head, flicking Qing Chun's forehead. Luckily, the place where they were standing right now was rather empty, so not a lot of people saw them.
"Did you already forget what your parents said, and what we agreed on?"
Qing Chun's expression turned a bit gloomy after she heard Liang Chen's reminder. She rubbed her forehead and swept the surroundings with her gaze, letting out a sigh and lowering her shoulders as she apologized.
"Oh... you're right, sorry. I will come by tonight after mother and father have fallen asleep. So you better prepare some mushrooms for me too."
The last part of her sentence was spoken in a low voice that only the two of them could hear. Qing Chun then quickly walked past Liang Chen, acting as if she had never seen him in the first place. Liang Chen looked at her swiftly disappearing back, his ever-warm smile twitching slightly. He felt bad about lying to her, but he felt that it was better than making her worry.
Once she had left his sight, he continued on his path, quickly leaving the city and following the same path that Qing Xiang had used when they headed to Sky Piercer Forest. Liang Chen walked as if he was on a leisure walk, even humming a slight tune and swinging the bucket as a child would do, just in case anyone could see him.
Once he entered the forest and was sure that no one could see him, his smile faded, replaced by a cold and calm expression. He unsheathed the knife at his waist, tightly grabbing it with his right hand. The first thing he did was search for some of the medicinal herbs that Qing Xiang had taught him about, picking a small handful of them.
Once he had picked a few herbs, he took several deep breaths to calm down his beating heart. Once he felt that he had calmed down enough, he started to aimlessly wander through the outskirts of the forest, keeping a vigilant eye on the surroundings, making sure that he did not accidentally wander deeper into the forest.
After he walked around for a little over an hour, he heard a soft rustling coming from a small bush to his right. His eyes narrowed as he turned towards the bush. He put down the bucket and snapped one of the lower hanging branches from a nearby tree, throwing it at the bush. The branch hit the bush, a low hissing sound coming from something within the bush. Shortly after, a one-meter long snake slithered out from the bush, looking at Liang Chen with angry eyes.
The snake had murky scales that were a mixture of green and brown in color, a triangular head, and amber eyes. Seeing the snake, Liang Chen's eyes lit up as his grasp on the knife tightened. The snake was a type of Demonic beast that he had read about, a weak Demonic beast that could never become anything but a Rank 1 Demonic beast.
Of course, even a Rank 1 Demonic beast was enough to easily kill Liang Chen. But the snake in front of him had not yet reached that stage, it was still very young and weak, a so-called Rank 0 Demonic beast. This was exactly the type of Demonic beast that Liang Chen had come looking for.
Liang Chen's limbs started trembling slightly when faced with the angry glare of the snake, but he still took a few slow steps forward. With each step he took forward, the snake would let out a low hiss, warning him to stay away. Liang Chen was scared, but he refused to falter, this was something that he had decided that he must do.
When he got within 10 meters of the snake, it slightly raised its head, its hissing growing louder. When Liang Chen got within five meters of the snake, it curled its body, looking ready to strike. And when he got within two meters of the snake, it uncurled its body and shot forwards, its mouth open wide. For a split second, Liang Chen felt his heart go cold when he saw the snake fly at him. But this was the moment he was waiting for, no amount of fear could stop him now.
His mind chilled and calmed down, entering a similar state as the one he had been in when he bit down on Qing Youyan's wrist. He quickly reached out with his empty left arm, pointing it towards the snake. The snake saw its chance, biting down on Liang Chen's left arm. The moment the snake bit down on him, Liang Chen stabbed out with the knife he held in his right hand. The knife pierced through the head of the snake and into his own arm, only stopping when he stabbed into his own bone.
The pain was far greater than the pain he felt when he punched the wooden pole, causing Liang Chen to let out a deep and hoarse growl. But he could not afford to rest yet. He pulled out the knife, and forced open the mouth of the now dead snake, causing it to slide off his arm. While the snake fell to the ground, Liang Chen placed his mouth over the wound on his arm, sucking up a mixture of blood and poison.
When the poison entered his mouth, it felt like acid, his tongue screaming in pain. He quickly spit out the poison, letting out another deep growl as he forced himself to not instinctively swallow. He placed his mouth over the wound again, sucking up more blood and poison. He continued to suck up poison until he felt like there was no longer any poison left.
He then grabbed the waterskin he had brought along, filling his mouth with water and then spitting it out. He continued to do this until his mouth was completely clean. He pulled out the herbs he had picked, chewing them into a coarse paste and applying them to the wound on his left arm. Once he applied the paste, he cut off the sleeves of his robe, tying them tightly around the wound to stop the bleeding. Only once he had done all this did he sit down on the ground and release several heavy breaths.
He continued to breathe heavily for a short moment before he placed his eyes on the corpse of the snake. He grabbed onto the snake with shaky hands, using his knife to cut it open, dripping its blood into the bucket he had brought along. Once he had drained all its blood, he tossed the body of the snake to the side. He kneeled down in front of the bucket of blood, hitting his forehead against the ground.
"Father, Mother, please forgive this son. You have taught me that I must always honor my promises, but now I must break a promise I made only two days ago. If I were to meet you in the afterlife, or if you were to reincarnate before then, I will accept all the punishments you will give me."
After he apologized to his deceased parents, he raised his head and pulled the bucket closer. The blood within the bucket was deep red and released a somewhat foul smell, causing Liang Chen's nose to continuously twitch. He took several deep breaths, then raised his right arm and plunged it into the bucket of blood. The moment his hand sank into the blood, he let out a loud scream and pulled his hand out of the blood.
He fell backward, his left hand grabbing onto his trembling right hand as he continued to let out a loud scream, his voice slowly growing hoarse. When his hand entered the blood, he felt like he had dipped it into acid, immense pain flooding his mind and turning it white. Only after several minutes passed did the pain in his right hand slowly recede, allowing Liang Chen to notice that his entire face was drenched in tears, causing him to let out a weak self-deprecating chuckle.
"Haha, so weak, crying because of a little pain. If I stay like this, I will never see more than Qing Lan Yong's shadow."
Liang Chen sat back up, his eyes landing on the bucket of blood that still stood there, the blood within it moving slightly as if it was taunting him. He took several deep breaths, clenching his right over and over again. He reached towards the bucket, but his hand seemed to refuse to get closer to the bucket, stopping not far from it, trembling fiercely.
Liang Chen grit his teeth pulled his arm back and then used it to punch the ground as hard as he could. A jolt of pain traveled up his arm, causing him to let out a slow yelp in pain. Liang Chen grit his teeth, doing his best to ignore the pain as he glared at his own arm.
"I am not so weak that a little pain will cause me to shrink back. I will do this, I will succeed, and I will kill Qing Lan Yong!"
His words turned into a loud shout, his eyes landing on the bucket of blood. He raised his right arm and forced it to move, to follow his orders. His left hand grabbed onto the bucket, and his right arm was pushed into the blood within it. This time, he did not pull out his arm after his hand entered the blood. He bit down on his lip, his eyes bloodshot and bulging as he did his best to resist the pain that felt like his entire arm was slowly melting.
He felt his entire vision slowly turn red, his mind almost falling into disarray, what seemed to be countless voices shouting out within his mind, telling him to feed, to kill, to reproduce, to do whatever he wished. He continued to bite down on his lip, his left hand grasping the bucket so tightly that his fingernails started to crack under the force.
Liang Chen realized why Qing Xiang said that people would turn into a mindless monster if they bathed in Demonic beast blood while their minds were weak. But Liang Chen did not think that his mind was weak. He was determined, the hatred he felt towards Qing Lan Yong preventing him from completely losing his mind under the invasion of the Demonic beast Qi.
Since he did not completely lose his mind, he could notice that the surrounding Qi was starting to move towards his right arm on its own, sinking into it and strengthening it. This strengthening went far faster than when Liang Chen cultivated on his own, causing his now bloody lips to curl into a smile. As he sat there, with his right arm drenched in serpent blood, he did not notice a single strand of his hair turning slightly green.